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Israel Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Israel Defense Forces (IDF): Ground Forces, Israel Naval Force (IN, includes commandos), Israel Air Force (IAF, includes air defense) (2023)

note 1: the national police, including the border police and the immigration police, are under the authority of the Ministry of Public Security

note 2: the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) is charged with combating terrorism and espionage in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip; it is under the authority of the Prime Minister; ISA forces operating in the West Bank fall under the IDF for operations and operational debriefing

Military expenditures

4.5% of GDP (2022 est.)
5% of GDP (2021 est.)
5% of GDP (2020 est.)
5.2% of GDP (2019 est.)
5.3% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 170,000 active-duty personnel (130,000 Ground Forces; 10,000 Naval; 30,000 Air Force) (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the majority of the IDF's inventory is comprised of weapons that are domestically produced or imported from Europe and the US; the US has been the leading supplier of arms in recent years; Israel has a broad defense industrial base that can develop, produce, support, and sustain a wide variety of weapons systems for both domestic use and export, particularly armored vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, air defense, and guided missiles (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for compulsory military service; 17 years of age for voluntary military service; Jews and Druze can be conscripted; Christians, Circassians, and Muslims may volunteer; both sexes are obligated to military service; conscript service obligation is 32 months for enlisted men and about 24 months for enlisted women (varies based on military occupation); officers serve 48 months; Air Force pilots commit to 9 years of service; reserve obligation to age 41-51 (men), age 24 (women) (2023)

note 1: women have served in the Israeli military since its establishment in 1948; as of 2021, women made up about 35% of IDF personnel; more than 90% of military specialties, including combat specialties, were open to women and more than 3,000 women were serving in combat units; the IDF's first mixed-gender infantry unit, the Caracal Battalion, was established in 2004

note 2: conscripts comprise about 70% of the IDF active-duty ground forces

note 3: the IDF recruits non-Israeli Jews and non-Jews with a minimum of one Jewish grandparent, as well as converts to Judaism; each year the IDF brings in about 800-1,000 foreign recruits from around the world

Military - note

the IDF is responsible for external defense but also has some domestic security responsibilities; its primary operational focuses include the threat posed by Iran, instability in Syria, and terrorist organizations, including HAMAS and Hizballah, both of which are backed by Iran, Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham; it has considerable experience in conventional and unconventional warfare; since the country’s founding in 1948, the IDF has been in conflicts against one or more of its Arab neighbors in 1948-49, 1956, 1967, 1967-70 (“War of Attrition”), 1973, 1982, and 2006; it bombed nuclear sites in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007, and since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, has conducted numerous air strikes in Syria against Iranian, Iranian-backed militia, and Hizballah forces, and Syrian Government targets; over the same period, the IDF has carried out strikes against Hizballah in Lebanon in response to attacks on Israeli territory; these strikes followed an Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006, also to suppress Hizballah attacks; the IDF has conducted operations against HAMAS and PIJ, which operate out of the Gaza Strip and have launched numerous rocket attacks against Israel; HAMAS and Israel fought an 11-day conflict in 2021, which ended in an informal truce, although sporadic clashes continued; in October 2023, HAMAS conducted a surprise ground assault into Israel, supported by rockets and armed drones, killing more than 1,000 Israelis and foreigners living in Israel; the attack sparked another war with Israel, including an IDF ground invasion of Gaza; the IDF also has conducted security operations against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank 

since its creation from armed Jewish militias during the First Arab-Israeli War in 1948-49, the IDF, particularly the Ground Force, has been guided by a requirement to rapidly mobilize and defend the country’s territory from numerically superior neighboring countries; the Ground Force has a relatively small active combat force of approximately 10 armored, mechanized infantry, paratrooper, and commandos/special forces brigades, plus an artillery corps, that is backed up by a large force of trained reserves—approximately 300-400,000 personnel—that can be mobilized rapidly into dozens of combat brigades; the Ground Force also controls Israel’s ballistic missile force; the Air Force has approximately 250 modern US-made combat aircraft, as well as one of the world’s most advanced theater missile defense systems; the Navy is largely a coastal defense force with a small but growing and largely modern inventory; its primary surface warships are seven German- and US-built corvettes, supplemented by a small flotilla of missile attack vessels and six German-made attack submarines

Israel’s primary security partner is the US; consistent with a 10-year (2019-2028) Memorandum of Understanding, the US annually provides over $3 billion in military financing and cooperative military programs, such as missile defense; the US also provides Israel access to US-produced military weapons systems including advanced fighter aircraft; Israel has Major Non-NATO Ally status with the US, a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation

the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has operated in the Golan between Israel and Syria since 1974 to monitor the ceasefire following the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and supervise the areas of separation between the two countries; UNDOF consists of about 1,000 military personnel (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Israel on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Israel 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Israel 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.